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Gillette Men Face Life In Prison After Being Caught With 7,000 Fentanyl Pills, 10 Pounds Of Meth

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Two Gillette men face the possibility of life in prison after leading Campbell County authorities on a chase earlier this month that ended with them being captured with pounds of methamphetamine and thousands of fentanyl pills.

Joshua Taylor and Brett Scheeler a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $10 million fine on charges of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

According to documents filed in U.S. District Court, a special agent received information in November that Taylor was involved in the selling and distributing of methamphetamine and fentanyl in the Gillette area.

Due to information received during the investigation, the agent believed Taylor was traveling to the Arizona area to pick up a large quantity of meth and fentanyl in early January.

The agent applied for and was granted a warrant to track Taylor’s cell phone. The tracking showed Taylor left Gillette on Jan. 6, heading south. The morning of Jan. 7, Taylor’s phone was in the Phoenix, Arizona area.

Using GPS location technology, the agent was able to determine Taylor was returning north the evening of Jan. 7.

Around 11 a.m. on Jan. 8, agents conducted surveillance on the route Taylor would most likely take to return to Gillette. During that time, they saw a white Chevrolet Suburban that was occupied by two men, one of whom was Taylor, court documents said.

Less than an hour later, a Campbell County sheriff’s deputy conducted a traffic stop on the Suburban. Scheeler was the driver and Taylor was the passenger.

The deputy asked for identification from the men and requested they both get out of the vehicle, but Scheeler drove away from the police and a chase ensued.

Although Scheeler drove the vehicle over a spike strip that had been deployed by law enforcement, he continued driving for several miles on flattened tires before turning onto a road. At this time, Taylor exited the vehicle and began running from police on foot.

As Taylor was running, police could see him throwing items out of a backpack he was carrying. They later determined he threw out a large quantity of meth and fentanyl pills.

Scheeler continued driving and crashed through a fence, finally coming to a stop. Deputies apprehended him and found a black handgun and syringe (containing suspected liquid methamphetamine) on the passenger floor directly behind the driver’s seat.

Agents also collected the alleged drugs Taylor threw and collected 6.4 pounds of suspected meth and 9 ounces of fentanyl in pill form. A subsequent search of the vehicle found more drugs.

In total, approximately 10.4 pounds of meth and 7,100 pills of fentanyl was recovered.

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Wyo Man Faces 25 Years For Beating Up 82-Year-Old Man & Stealing His Car on Thanksgiving

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Wyoming man is facing 25 years in prison for allegedly assaulting an elderly man and stealing his van on the day before Thanksgiving.

Shane Duane Blackburn, 33, faces 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for carjacking, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in December.

According to court documents, an elderly man, identified as G.J., went to Hines General Store in Fort Washakie on Nov. 24 to pick up supplies for Thanksgiving.

When he left the store, he saw Blackburn asking for a ride. Since it was cold and the day before Thanksgiving, G.J. agreed to give Blackburn a ride in his 2014 Toyota Sienna minivan.

The victim said they had not been driving long when Blackburn got a “mean look” on his face, reached into the back seat and began throwing things around.

G.J. told Blackburn to “knock it off” and then lied to the man, saying he had a weapon under his seat and saying he would use it if Blackburn did not stop throwing things. This did not help, as Blackburn “looked even more terrible and mean,” the documents said.

As the victim continued driving, Blackburn “lunged” at him, pinning him between the seat and car door. He then started to “beat the hell” out of the victim.

Fearful they would crash into oncoming traffic and unable to defend himself while struggling to keep the vehicle under control, the victim pulled over and stopped the car.

Before G.J. could get the keys out of the ignition, Blackburn opened the driver door and pushed the victim to the ground. Blackburn followed, landing on top of the victim.

While on top of G.J., Blackburn continued to hit the man. In attempt to get up, the victim rolled onto his stomach, but Blackburn repeatedly slammed the man’s head into the gravel.

A woman was driving north on U.S. Highway 287 when she witnessed the assault. She pulled over in attempt to help, and Blackburn got into G.J.’s car and drove away, heading south.

Blackburn was later arrested in the parking lot of the Shoshone Rose Hotel and Casino by Wind River police. Before booking him into jail, the officer drove Blackburn to the area where G.J. was waiting for emergency medical services.

The man identified Blackburn as his attacker and the man who stole his van.

Blackburn was interviewed on Nov. 30 and said he had taken methamphetamine for the first time on Nov. 24, and was “freaking out” that morning. He recalled asking for a ride at the general store until someone finally offered him one, but Blackburn could not remember what the man looked like or what he drove.

Blackburn said he did not recall being violent with the van’s owner.

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Suspect Killed By Gillette Police After Allegedly Swinging Weapon At Them

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A man was killed by Gillette police on Sunday after swinging a large bladed weapon at officers, the city of Gillette announced.

According to the city, police were called Sunday morning by a person requesting assistance to remove a subject from a home in Gillette. The caller indicated the subject made threats of violence to the occupants of the house and refused to leave.

When officers arrived at the house, they made contact with the suspect, who was armed with a large edged weapon.

The man refused multiple requests to drop the weapon, the city said. Officers deployed two forms of less lethal options and the suspected retreated further into the home.

The officers continued to attempt to disarm the suspect through less lethal means.

When the man charged at the officers, swinging the weapon at them, both officers discharged their duty firearms, striking the man.

Lifesaving measures were initiated, but the suspect was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency medical personnel.

One of the officer was treated for minor injuries. The Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigations is looking into the incident.

There will be no further information released until the investigation is complete. The suspect and officers were unnamed Sunday.

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Cody Man Charged With Participating In Capitol Riot

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

More than one year after it took place, a Cody man has been charged with participating in the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Andrew James Galloway was charged in federal court on Jan. 4 with entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

Galloway has not yet entered a plea to the charges.

According to documents filed in U.S. District Court, Galloway was one of the people who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in response to Congress certifying the vote count that confirmed President Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election.

Five people died as a result of the attack.

Following the Capitol attack, the FBI received an online tip concerning Galloway’s participation in the riot, according to an affidavit filed by an investigator.

The tip referenced a TikTok video in which Galloway states “Yeah, that was us today. No, it wasn’t Antifa.” While the video has been deleted from TikTok, a similar one was uploaded to YouTube.

After receiving the tip, the FBI identified Galloway in Capitol surveillance footage. At 2:24 on Jan. 6, he entered the Capitol through a breached window. He walked around in the building, and left through the same window about 10 minutes later, the affidavit said.

In the YouTube video, a man identified as Galloway is clearly visible due to a winter toboggan hat that had “TRUMP” written on it that he wore. The man is wearing the hat in the TikTok video.

After identifying Galloway in the video, the FBI interviewed him at his home. He positively identified himself in the video and did not dispute that he was at the Capitol. However, he said he did not enter the building, but only approached from the outside.

However, agents identified him in surveillance footage and also noted that his cell phone GPS pinged inside of the Capitol.

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Cheyenne Man Who Was Pepper Sprayed By Mailman Faces 5 Years In Prison

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A man who assaulted a mail carrier and was pepper sprayed for his efforts has been charged with possession of stolen mail, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court.

Jacob Scott Reeves faces up to five years in prison for the crime and up to a $250,000 fine.

According to court documents, a U.S. postal inspector was told on Dec. 29 about an assault on a postal carrier that occurred the afternoon of Dec. 24. The carrier was assaulted while delivering mail on his route by a man taking mail from a mailbox that was not his.

The man, identified as Reeves, was arrested by the Cheyenne Police Department on a charge of assault. According to a report made by the CPD, the mail carrier was delivering mail when he approached a man taking mail from a box that was not his.

According to an interview with the mail carrier, while delivering mail, he spotted Reeves a distance away. He stopped to ask if he could help Reeves, who had mail in his hand that he had retrieved from the locked mailbox. The mail carrier said Reeves was able to get his fingers into the box and remove some pieces of mail. The mail carrier said Reeves had seven or eight pieces of mail in his hand.

Reeves began to approach the mail carrier and pulled a black folding knife from his pocket, saying “I’m going to [expletive] kill you” as he approached. The mail carrier sprayed Reeves with pepper spray multiple times and Reeves left in a vehicle.

The mail carrier went to call the police, but learned another person had already done so.

The mail carrier took photos of the vehicle and the license plate, which he provided to police. A witness to the assault was also interviewed by police.

On Jan. 4, the mail carrier was interviewed by postal inspectors and said he had no issues since the assault. He also said he believed that Reeves was searching for checks in the mailbox.

The mail carrier also said that he had never seen Reeves on his route before. He also believed the witness who first contacted police saw Reeves searching a mailbox across the street before the assault took place.

While the mail carrier had never seen Reeves before, he knew someone with the same last name received mail at a nearby address. He also said he was considering different employment, as he did not want to keep looking over his shoulder.

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Cheyenne, Casper Teens Charged In July Murder Of 14-Year-Old

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Two teenagers have been charged as adults in the fatal shooting of a 14-year-old boy in July, the Cheyenne Police Department announced Friday.

Raymond Sanchez, 16, of Cheyenne, has been charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Xavier Sanchez, 18, of Casper, has been charged with attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

The two are charged in the death of Daniel Barlow, 14, in the early hours of July 5.

Around 1 a.m., July 5, Cheyenne police were dispatched to a residence to investigate a report of a gunshot. Upon arrival, they found Barlow with a gunshot wound to his chest. He was transported to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center by ambulance, where he was pronounced dead.

According to the department’s statement, Cheyenne detectives determined in July that Raymond and Xavier Sanchez acted together during the homicide.

Raymond was arrested July 10 on charges unrelated to the murder and was placed in custody. Xavier was arrested on July 15 in Casper on charges related to the homicide case.

Affidavits of probable cause were then forwarded to the Laramie County District Attorney.

Raymond Sanchez and Xavier Sanchez are now being held at the Laramie County Detention Center in Cheyenne. The date for their preliminary hearing is pending.

There was no indication from Cheyenne police of whether Raymond Sanchez and Xavier Sanchez are related.

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Increasing Law Enforcement Calls Put Strain On Wyoming Officers

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Law enforcement agencies throughout the state are reporting significant increases in the number of calls they have responded to over the last year.

That extra load means an increase in stress for those who are sworn “to protect and serve,” even in a state as supportive of law enforcement as Wyoming.

Byron Oedekoven, executive director of the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police, said the same factors affecting people nationally are putting additional strains on Wyoming residents, which results in increased tensions and increases in law enforcement calls.

“We’re very fortunate that we are in Wyoming in the first place, and that we enjoy the community support that we do,” Oedekoven said. “Unfortunately, with COVID, with the lockdowns in other areas, the stress that it puts on families here and their extended families, it’s taking a toll on us as well,” he continued. “The uncertainty to the economy and the whole infrastructure issues that are going on; the war on the west, the war on petroleum, which makes some of the job market uncertain, which again, leads to that family stress – in a lot of cases, that leads to increased law enforcement calls.”

“In 2020, the total calls to the dispatcher — and that’s everything from dog calls to, you know, ‘I ran off the road’ — was about 34,995 calls,” said Sheriff Steve Rakness in Washakie County. “Last year, for 2021, we had 39,463 calls.

“We had a total increase in drug calls,” Rakness continued. “Those have increased – and juveniles are committing more crimes. I’ve had in 2021 more juveniles in my jail being charged with adults than ever with capital crimes, high felonies.”

“We have had more use of force incidents in the last year than we’ve had in multiple years combined,” said Ken Blackburn, sheriff of Big Horn County. “And a lot of that is just the divisive nature of our community and of society right now.”

Gun violence has increased in rural counties, as well, sheriffs said.

“More people have guns,” Rakness said. “That puts all law enforcement in jeopardy.”

Just last month, in the tiny town of Basin (population less than 1,400), a police officer shot the Basin School District’s special education director, who was making suicidal threats and carrying an automatic weapon. That sort of call doesn’t happen often in rural communities – and when it does, it takes a psychological toll on the officer as well as the town’s residents.

“We’ve had two officer-involved shootings in the Bighorn Basin this year, and I want to say four homicides in Big Horn County in the last year,” Blackburn said. “I couldn’t even begin to count the number of increased domestic violence situations, which is already fairly high, but I believe has been exacerbated by the climate of the last two years.” Blackburn pointed out that criminal activity that originates outside the state’s borders is beginning to have a larger impact on Wyoming.

“Some of the drugs that are coming into the state are really quite dangerous,” he said. “There are new drugs coming into the area, this Mexican fentanyl is coming in. And they’re so powerful — we’ve had three or four incidents just in Big Horn County of fatalities this year, of people having to be resuscitated because the drug was so damaging so quickly to them, and it stopped their breathing.”

“The prevalence of drugs, the carriers and the gangs, the cartels are marketing those drugs through their newly established travel routes over the border,” said Oedekoven. “When you can see million-dollar seizures of drugs in Wyoming, that’s huge. That’s a significant impact. And yet, we’ve cut back and reduced the number of officers working those kinds of cases.”

Those budget cuts are affecting more than just high-profile cases, according to Blackburn, who blames the “de-fund the police” movement and other anti-government sentiments for some of the issues facing law enforcement.

“We’re caught in the public opinion between ‘We don’t want government,’ and yet when they dial 911 they expect someone to be there immediately,” Blackburn said. “And it’s kind of a Catch-22.”Oedekoven added that it’s not just budget cuts causing a reduction in law enforcement staffing — it’s harder to find qualified recruits.

“The average person is unsure that they would like to start a career in law enforcement,” Oedekoven said. “And then there’s folks who are applying for positions within law enforcement who are clearly not qualified. And in part, I think it’s because they see some of the antics of some of the officers on the East and the West coasts.”

“Hiring somebody is like pulling teeth from a dragon,”  Rakness said. “We just can’t find anybody to work.” 

Blackburn pointed out that smaller officer numbers didn’t used to be a problem.

“We’ve always been able to get by with less officers, because we were able to handle that call volume,” he said. “But that call volume is increasing so significantly that the officers are working overtime to try to keep up with the call volume and the call load, and it’s wearing them out and burning them out.”

Blackburn said he and his fellow law enforcement officers are frustrated by the mixed messages they receive from the public.

“When I first started law enforcement, we were kind of the good guys,” he said. “And this culture of anti-law enforcement and police reforms, even though we don’t see it as much in Wyoming as we see around the nation, those comments are still very, very hard. And I would venture that at least 80% of law enforcement officers get involved because they want to make a difference, and they want to help people. And that feeling that we’re not wanted, has been exacerbated by this counterculture in America right now.”

Blackburn said there are many residents who show support for law enforcement — but those are offset by others who are critical of police and sheriff’s departments.

“There are those times when we go and our team is scratching their heads, wondering sometimes why we’re doing this,” he said, “because we’re kind of between a rock and a hard spot. We’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t, and it becomes a very frustrating position.

”Low officer pay affects morale as well, according to Blackburn.

“There are a lot of positions out there that pay just as much money that don’t require the sacrifice, the difficult hours or the risk,” he said. “And it takes its toll emotionally – we’ve certainly seen that with multiple law enforcement suicides in the last year.”

But Blackburn pointed out that some officers cope with that stress by going above and beyond to take care of those in their communities.

“Near Christmas, when all these other agencies have given out their gifts, we invariably hear about some family that comes on the hardest of times and they slip through the cracks,” he said. “And that’s one of the ways that (officers) cope – by giving service.”

Blackburn said that despite the hardships of the job, the vast majority of law enforcement officers around the state are hard working and dedicated.

“We’re not whining about it,” he said. “We know we knew what the job was when we took it, and these guys are working really hard. And there are bad cops out there, but there are a lot of really, really great things that these guys do day in and day out that nobody ever sees.” 

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Rise In Internet Crimes Against Children In Wyoming Prompts Educational Effort

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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

Internet crimes against children are on the rise in Wyoming and are focusing on increasingly younger victims, according to authorities.

The increase marks an alarming trend toward the normalization of sexually exploitative behaviors among teens and children that make them more vulnerable to predators, experts said.

Chris McDonald, special agent and head of the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) unit for Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, said that the state had another banner year with regard to the numerous cyber tips that he and his team received about potential exploitation of children online.

In 2021, ITAC received more than 600 tips, leading to 33 arrests, compared to 262 tips in 2019 and 531 in 2020. The tips come from social media and internet providers as well as the Center for Missing and Exploited Children and other reporting agencies. 

Of the 33 arrests in 2021, many were for producing or sharing child pornography involving 23 live victims who were rescued through law enforcement efforts. Police have also made arrests in cases of adults traveling to have sex with children, as well as cases involving “sextortion” and blackmail.

Staying ahead of the predators

As a father himself and someone who typically would avoid social media, McDonald said that adult oversight is key to keeping children safe. He and his team are seeing an increase in predatory activity on platforms such as KIK, Snapchat and TikTok, as well as in online and multi-player games.

“Everything is happening at the speed of the internet,” he said. “Predators are able to hide themselves. It’s like an arms race any time there is new platform or app.”

While officers can’t control the predators, they can do everything in their power to educate teens about the potential threats and the ramifications of their internet activity and behavior.

Terri Markham sees risky online behavior every day in her role as co-founder and executive director of Uprising Wyoming, a Sheridan-based nonprofit focused on education and raising awareness about human trafficking and other forms of exploitation. 

In the roughly three years since she founded the nonprofit, Markham has traversed the state working with law enforcement, first responders and other professionals in the field to raise awareness about the issue and working with teens to teach them to recognize and protect themselves against online predation.

What she’s found in working with teens in the middle and high school levels has alarmed her, both in the number of times teens have been approached by potential predators online as well as their blasé attitude toward sharing nude photos of themselves or their peers.

Markham shared the results of anonymous surveys from workshops with youths age 12 and up from around the state in which 45% reported being approached by a stranger online in a way that made them feel uncomfortable.

In that same group, 15% said they had social media accounts that their parents didn’t know about while 13% said they had sent or received nude photos or videos online.

An additional 8% reported drug or alcohol abuse in their home, which is another vulnerability, Markham noted. 

Even more shocking to her was the three disclosures from a group of 12- to 13-years-olds she spoke with recently who reported active cases of sextortion in which someone was threatening to release a nude photo or video of them against their wishes. 

Markham said her group learned that children in that age group needed to be equipped with youth critical thinking skills to help them identify when they are in a potentially exploitative situation.  

“What we discovered is that we were really a little too late in talking about this topic with this age group,” she said. “It often leads to just giving them the language to describe experiences that had already happened or were happening to them.”

Worse yet, Markham said, is that it’s becoming very commonplace to see younger children, as young as 9 or 10, also sharing nude photos across a variety of social media platforms and apps.

As a result of what Markham and her team were finding, they’ve decided to continue focusing these workshops with youth across the state in order to help mitigate these dangerous behaviors that make them particularly vulnerable to predators. 

“It’s becoming so normalized that it’s getting easier for predators to exploit these children,” she said. “They are growing up with this and thinking it’s normal.”

Along with offering training for children, educators, law enforcement and other professionals, Uprising also conducts training sessions for parents and care givers to make them aware of the problem while giving them tools to help keep their children safe. 

“We’re all about risk reduction,” she said. “Both immediate and long term. We want to let kids know that these images can come back to haunt them and how important it is to report it instead of just re-sharing or not staying anything. That’s where it starts. Risky behavior leads to other risky behavior when a stranger comes around.”

Like Markham, McDonald focuses a lot of his time doing in-class presentations throughout the state.

“We can’t get rid of it all,” he said, “so we have to figure out how to help the kiddos protect themselves online.”

For more information about this issue and opportunities for education and training, contact Markham at Uprising Wyoming. Additional resources include Thorn.org and Center for Missing and Exploited Children

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Cheyenne Man Faces Life In Prison For Conspiring To Distribute Meth

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Cheyenne man faces life in prison and a $10 million fine due on allegations he conspired to distribute meth throughout the state.

Daniel Patrick Gutierrez was charged earlier this month in U.S. District Court with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, a felony charge that comes with a penalty ranging from 10 years to life in prison, a $10 million fine and five years to a lifetime of supervised release.

According to court documents, the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation began an investigation in December 2020 into the use and distribution of meth in Natrona County.

Through the course of the investigation, Joseph Hooker was identified as a source of supply for the drug in Natrona County. Agents conducted multiple interviews with known co-conspirators and other individuals related to Hooker and his alleged possession and distribution of large quantities of the drug, as his trips to Cheyenne and Colorado to obtain more drugs for redistribution in Natrona County.

That same month, DCI agents conducted a controlled purchase of meth from Hooker using a confidential informant, buying 3.6 grams of the drug.

In January 2021, a DCI agent received a search warrant to begin tracking Hooker’s cell phone GPS data, which showed he traveled to Cheyenne and returned the next day to Casper. He was arrested that same day and was found with 199 grams (almost one-half pound) of methamphetamine, packaging materials associated with the distribution of drugs and two semi-automatic pistols.

After Hooker’s arrest, the agent received a search warrant to look through Hooker’s phone and found numerous conversations between Hooker and Gutierrez related to the use and distribution of controlled substances, as well as the collection of money.

The agent found Hooker and Gutierrez appeared to arrange and conspire to obtain meth on six separate occasions, obtaining six to nine pounds of meth during that time. They also discussed and referenced prices commonly associated with one-half and one pound quantities of meth, as well as the collection and transmission of money for the purchases, an affidavit said.

The agent also found that Gutierrez’s address in Cheyenne appeared in Hooker’s GPS data on his phone.

In February, agents conducted an interview with a different confidential informant, who had recently been arrested with one-quarter of an ounce of meth, which had been bought from Gutierrez.

The informant said he or she had been to Gutierrez’s home twice to obtain meth, once to get one-eighth of an ounce and again to obtain one-quarter of an ounce, which Gutierrez had provided as a “front,” since the informant said he or she was not not doing well and needed to make some money.

In August, police searched Gutierrez’s home in Cheyenne and he was taken into custody on an active warrant from Natrona County.

After Gutierrez was taken into custody, he told agents he did not want to speak with them, but also questioned how he could be charged in Casper for a crime, as he claimed he had not “stepped foot” in the city and did not live there.

An agent told Gutierrez that he did not have to live in the city to be charged with conspiracy to distribute drugs. Gutierrez said he hadn’t “sold” to anyone in the city, but then recanted and admitted to selling to “a couple” of people in Casper.

During the search of Gutierrez’s home, agents found two rifles, various ammunition, small quantities of suspected meth, suspected fentanyl pills and multiple items of drug paraphernalia. Agents noted that much of his bedroom was covered in writing, alluding to nicknames of Gutierrez’s including “Kasper” and “Mr. H20 Meth Kingpin.”

In November, agents conducted an interview with a third confidential informant, who confirmed Gutierrez’s aforementioned nicknames and said he or she had bought meth from him. The informant also said Gutierrez obtained his meth from a source in Colorado, according to the affidavit.

According to the third informant, Gutierrez said when he got out of federal prison, his source fronted him five pounds of meth and while Gutierrez redistributed the drugs, he spent most of the profit gambling.

Since he spent a majority of the money, Gutierrez was no longer to able obtain meth from his source on credit, and had to pay for it first.

The informant said he or she traveled with Gutierrez and Ashley Gutierrez to the Thornton, Colorado, area to obtain meth from the source. The informant said the first time they went to Colorado, Daniel Gutierrez took an AR-15 and two pistols with him to trade for the drugs.

Since the source of the meth charged $4,500 to $5,000 per pound, the informant said that Gutierrez had trouble coming up with the money to pay for it in advance.

The informant said Gutierrez “ran a gun ring” in Cheyenne and explained that he would trade meth or fentanyl pills to juveniles and adults in the city in exchange for firearms, including stolen ones.

The informant said he or she Hooker and Gutierrez were involved in distributing meth together, but did not know the specifics of their involvement with each other.

Gutierrez apparently expressed concern about his co-conspirator getting arrested and federally charged, worrying that his friend would admit to their drug dealing, the affidavit said.

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Constitutional Attorney Dershowitz Takes Up Case Of Wilson Man

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A Wilson man is asking a state district court to overturn his convictions stemming from allegations he kissed two teenage women at his home, saying prosecutors withheld information that could have affected his trial.

The case of William Michael Crothers, convicted in April 2020 on misdemeanor charges of “unlawful contact” and permitting a house party to be held at his home, has been taken up by Alan Dershowitz, a constitutional attorney known for serving on the “dream team” that defended O.J. Simpson against murder charges.

No date for a hearing of the appeal has been set.

In his appeal of his circuit court conviction, Crothers is arguing that prosecutors improperly withheld information about promises they made not to prosecute teenage witnesses in the case, information that could have changed the outcome of his jury trial.

“This appeal centers on bedrock constitutional rights common to every criminal defendant in this country, including the right to due process and the right to effective cross-examination …” said the appeal filed with state district court in Teton County. “The defendant here … was deprived of these rights in his trial and conviction for three misdemeanor crimes. Most offensive, the prosecution withheld critical impeachment evidence … claiming that the benefit conferred to the witnesses could not technically be considered an agreement.”

According to the appeal, Crothers’ teenage son in May 2019 invited some friends to Crothers’ home while Crothers was attending a charity event.

The crowd grew beyond those invited and some teenagers brought alcohol and marijuana with them.

Crothers had taken a taxi from the event to his home because he was inebriated, the appeal said. When he reached his home, 20 to 30 teenagers were inside it, many of them longtime family friends.

One young girl who was a stranger to Crothers, who admitted being inebriated at the party, later told other partygoers that Crothers had kissed her and grabbed her buttocks.

However, none of the other people at the party saw Crothers grab the woman and only one other person said she saw the kiss occur. The woman’s boyfriend said he was unaware of the kiss “even though (the woman) was sitting on his lap when the alleged kiss occurred” the appeal said.

The appeal said the party was widely discussed at Jackson Hole High School the following week and the school resource officer began interviewing students about it. The officer issued three citations against Crothers for hosting a house party for minors, breaching the peace and unlawful contact with the teenage woman.

The Teton County Attorney’s office added two more charges, one of sexual battery on allegations Crothers grabbed the young woman’s buttocks and one of unlawful contact based on a kiss on the cheek given by Crothers to young woman who was a longtime friend of the family. 

Before the trial began, another charge of unlawful contact had been filed alleging Crothers had kissed the first woman twice —- once in his house and once in his garage, although the teenager herself “testified that she did not remember being kissed in the garage.

”Crothers’ prosecution relied largely on the testimony of some of the teenagers who attended the party, the appeal said.

The jury in circuit court found Crothers innocent of sexual battery and one count of unlawful contact. He was found guilty of two counts of unlawful contact and permitting a house party where minors are present, all misdemeanors. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

But after the trial, Crothers and his attorneys discovered that prosecutors had promised the teenagers who testified against Crothers  that if they testified, they would not be charged with underage drinking or use or possession of marijuana.

Based on this information, Crothers asked for a new trial under what is referred to as a “Brady” rule violation. The name refers to a case in which prosecutors purposefully withheld information from defense attorneys that could have had an impact on a defendant’s trial.

“In sum, direct and circumstantial evidence shows that the state failed to disclose Deputy (Prosecutor Clark) Allan’s promises to the teenage witnesses that they would not be subject to criminal liability for underage consumption of alcohol and possession of drugs if they testified against Mr. Crothers,” the appeal said.

Crothers is seeking to have his conviction overturned based on the “Brady” rule violation, as well as the refusal of the circuit court to admit as evidence social media videos that would have impeached the credibility of several of the witnesses.

The appeal also accused prosecutors of improperly inflating the charges against Brothers and orchestrating a media campaign to heighten public scrutiny of Crothers, all of which the appeal said hurt his ability to obtain a fair trial.

It also said the state’s “unlawful contact” statute is unconstitutionally vague because it was defined in Crothers’ case as “unlawfully touching … in a rude manner.”

The lawsuit also asks that Crothers’ convictions be overturned because insufficient evidence exists to support his convictions on charges of unlawful contact.

Dershowitz is known for taking on high-profile cases and has represented famous clients including boxer Mike Tyson, businesswoman Leona Helmsley and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

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